Thursday, August 5, 2010

Garden Fresh Pasta Salad

I bet you have some garden fresh tomatoes, zucchini and peppers laying around on your counter or fridge. I know I do, and to top it off, I still end up buying more at the farmer's market because they are so cheap and perfectly ripe right now. But the question becomes what to do with them to really enjoy the season and make something simply delicious. Why not a quick fix pasta salad? It is an inexpensive, seasonal delite.

Gluten-free Tinkyada pasta is my favorite GF pasta for sure. It is perfect cooked al-dente and it doesn't get gummy or broken down. It keeps it's posture and the flavor is hearty and rich. It's almost as if you haven't given up gluten at all. Which is a bonus for the pasta lover like me. Yeah, you can't go to the local romantic Italian bistro to find this, but make it at home and set the ambiance yourself. It's so worth it!

I am re-reading the book, "Eat Pray Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert just because... ok it is because the film with Julia Roberts based on the book is coming out next week, but still... a easy read that I am welcoming right now for sure. Anyways, when the author Liz speaks of the food if Italy I am always stunned of how in America we Americanize Italian favorites. And that if we really ate like the Italians we would probably be very healthy people. They eat their own local seafood and grow their own olives and make their own cheeses. This is the way of the old world I guess. It makes me wonder if half of our country's issues with food is because we are so disconnected from it, like not knowing where it comes from and how it is made. So, it is always a good reminder to eat real food, but also to be more a part of the process... being connected to your local farmer for meat and cheeses, and doing your own little part of planting and growing some of your own food. I feel like that would be a baby step for us in our very industrialized food world to make a difference and see a difference in our own lives and diet.

So this recipe isn't a purely Italian dish or anything, but it does represent eating fresh, local and simply. With some fresh veggies, and some gluten-free pasta you basically have a meal. You can avoid all of the major allergens in this meal and not even realize you are doing it.
Garden Fresh Gluten-Free Pasta Salad Recipe

This recipe has a few steps going here we go:

In a large sauce or frying pan:
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
3 large cloves of garlic minced
1 large zucchini chopped (just over 1 heaping cup-full)
1- 1 1/2 cups of cherry tomatoes diced
1 green pepper diced (should be a heaping cup-full)
salt and pepper to taste (like 1 ts of each is good for me or more to serve)
Lastly add 1/2 cup of finely chopped fresh basil leaves in the last minute of cooking.

Saute the above ingredients, start with the oil and garlic and then add the zucchini, then the tomatoes and peppers together. Saute/cook on a lower heat for 15 minutes until everything is soft and the tomatoes have broken down a bit. The tomatoes and juices with the oil will make a little bit of sauce to the dish...make sure not to burn. Add the salt and pepper in the later stages of cooking, but make sure you add just a bit to spice it up... take off the heat after the basil is wilted, then get ready to pour into the cooked pasta...

In the meantime in a medium pot of boiling water:
Cook 12 ounces of your favorite gluten-free pasta. Tinkyada Brown Rice is my absolute favorite! I cooked the Penne, al-dente, and it made the recipe perfect! Cook along side the cooking veggies to have it ready and al-dente when veggies are done.

Then...In a small blender or food processor:
1 cup of fresh basil leaves
grip-full of fresh oregano or thyme..
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 TB of balsamic vinegar

Blend the above ingredients to make a pesto like, saucy thick substance to mix everything together. So blend, then then pour over the cooked pasta and then add the veggies and mix well all together either in the large pot when the pasta was cooked, and then move to a serving bowl, or mix well in a large mixing bowl and serve. Top with some fresh basil, or a squeeze of lemon, cracked pepper or even some goat cheese or Parmesan if that is your fancy. Let cool a bit before serving if you want it to be a chilled pasta salad. I personally loved it a little warm, and then cold the next day. It is a very simple and versatile pasta salad. I hope you enjoy!
Well, friends... that's my simple fresh recipe for the day. I hope you try it out with all your fresh veggies and enjoy! I know I will be making this simple salad again, and sharing with those I love. It is a perfect summer dish. What better way to savor summer while it lasts? Enjoy!


  1. this looks outright awesome! though i am short on basil right now! looks fresh and scrumptious! i'd love to add avocados to the mix! thanks for sharing the recipe!!

  2. ooo avocados sound good, now if I could only grow them in my backyard...;)

  3. Just read your post about getting food from your first garden. I will look forward to all the zucchini recipes you share. I wanted to share one idea I had when I let my zucchini grow super big one yr (4 inch diameter). I sliced the zucchini lengthwise about 1/4 inch thick. I made zucchini lasagna. Instead of noodles place the uncoooked long zucchini slices in their place. I learned after a few tries that the sauce has to be super thick with all the water the zucchini leaks out.
    Looking forward to all your upcoming recipes! Thanks!